Singer Teena Marie–who got her start on the Motown label–has died. Marie, whose real name was Mary Brockert, was 54. Her death was thought to be from natural causes.
Oakland Press music critic Gary Graff says Marie, who got her start with Rick James, had looks–but had musical talent too.
“It’s fair to say that Teena Marie was to Rick James what Sheila E was to Prince. She was the very talented protegé, the one who was more than just a pretty girl but had a great deal of musical talent,” Graff said.
Marie, one of Motown’s first white singers, went on to success with other labels during her career. Marie “in fact had her biggest hits with the Sony Music Corporation,” Graff said.
“When people saw that she was white, they were just blown away just by the voice and the caliber of the musicianship as a guitarist, and the songs, and the writing,” said Graff.
Marie earned four Grammy nominations during her career.